Beginning of July we sailed with our own vehicle from Donghae in South Korea to Vladivostok in Russia. The ferry leaves South Korea on Sunday and arrives in Russia on Monday. The journey takes about 24 hours. Do you want to know more about the trip on the DBS ferry? You want to know the procedure from the booking to the arrival, prices and contact details? Then this post is perfect for you.
Three months ago we shipped our camper Taku from Australia to South Korea. We explored the fascinating country of South Korea for three months. Beginning of July it was time to ship our vehicle again. Our road trip adventure around the world continues on 8 July by ferry from South Korea to Russia.
The easiest way to ship a vehicle from South Korea to Russia is by ferry. DBS cruise sails weekly from Donghae to Vladivostok. In this post we describe the procedure about the shipping, our experience on the DBS ferry and what happens after the arrival in Russia. You will also find prices and contact details.
Our experience and tips for shipping the own vehicle by ferry from South Korea to Russia
Sailing with the ferry from Donghae in South Korea to Vladivostok in Russia is a great experience. Even if the journey is taking up to 24 hours, time flies pretty fast if you have good company and a cabin to have a rest.
We met great people from Korea, England and New Zealand who have similar travel plans like us. You may meet other overlanders too as the route from South Korea to Russia is getting more popular.
Travelling with the DBS ferry from South Korea to Russia
Ticketing, procedure of customs and journey from Donghae to Vladivostok
The gate to the Donghae International Passenger Terminal opens at 9.00 AM. We arrive with our car and park in front of the Logistics Support Center. That’s the building on the left side when you enter the gate from the main road.
Passengers who travel without a car can go to the Ticket Office directly.
We are not the only ones who travel with the own vehicle. There are two Korean couples who have similar plans, overlanding form Russia to Europe. There are also five guys on motorbikes. It’s great to share stories and hear about different travel plans.
First thing we have to do when entering the office/waiting room is to pay the fee for our vehicle. It’s called the cargo ocean freight. We pay by credit card. Cash in US Dollar and Korean Won is also accepted. That’s it for the moment. We have to wait until 10:00 AM for further action.
While waiting for further instructions we can use free WiFi and time is passing by quickly.
At 10:30 AM it’s time to get ready. Before we drive our vehicle onto the ferry, we need to go to customs inspection and clearance. The officer is checking our cupboards and documents. We have to hand over the TIP (temporary import document) and the yellow sticker (proof of insurance). Both documents we received from customs when entering South Korea.
Customs takes out our fuel stove. They say it is not allowed to keep fuel inside the vehicle. Marcel empties the fuel tank in front of the officer and we can finally keep the stove in the vehicle. We get the final ok to drive our vehicle into the ferry. We have to leave the key with the vehicle as we are not allowed to drive it off the ferry in Vladivostok, Russia.
Now we have another two hours to wait before boarding the ship. Ticketing for passengers starts at 11:00 AM but we are told that it’s best to wait until 1:00 PM to avoid the crowd. That’s a good advice.
At 1:00 PM we go to the ticket office, present our passport, we pay the fare for the passenger tickets and after scanning our hand luggage we can board the ship.
The estimated departure time is 2:00 PM. With a little delay the ferry is finally departing at 2:30 PM.
24 hours on the MV Eastern Dream from Donghae to Vladivostok
The following 24 hours we are sailing on the DBS ferry from South Korea to Russia. Luckily the Japanese Sea is relatively calm compared to the last few days when big storms and a typhoon were active in the area.
We walk around the ship, check out our cabin (we booked economy, shared room with 8 bunk beds) and have a little rest. We share the room with other overlanders from Korea. With the ticket we got food vouchers as well, unfortunately just for one person. With the three vouchers we can at least go for dinner together. The restaurant is old fashioned and the food not the best, but we have great company. We share a table with Dave, Gary and Justin. All of them are traveling on a motorbike. It is very cool to share travel stories and hear more about different adventures and travel plans.
It’s getting late and we call it a day. Back in our cabin we literally fall into the bed and it doesn’t take long to fall asleep. Even if the rumbling of the engine is loud and the room temperature is too warm, we sleep pretty well.
Drinking water (hot and cold) is available on different spots on the ship. If you want to have a shower, there are shared showers available.
The last hours on the ferry from South Korea to Russia
At 7 AM Vladivostok time (+1h to South Korea) we wake up from the loudspeaker message that the breakfast buffet is ready. Still sleepy we walk to the restaurant. Unfortunately, we only got three meal vouchers for the two of us. We had dinner together which means, just one voucher left. It seems to be normal that only the driver of the vehicle gets a full set of vouchers. As I’m not hungry anyway, I go to the Zest Bar for a coffee. Marcel is joining me after breakfast. Together we enjoy another cup of coffee and later the motor bike riders are joining us as well. While sharing travel stories time flies as always.
At noon we have our lunch outside on the top deck. It feels good to breath fresh air. In the far distance we can see land. That must be Russia. At 2.20 PM we finally arrive in Vladivostok. We are in Russia.
Information for a successful shipping by ferry from South Korea to Russia
Booking the DBS ferry
Book early if you intend to travel in July. In July is high season and the ferry may be fully booked should you be too late. It happened to us. We wanted to sail on 1 July. We sent a booking request in April and we got the information that the ferry is fully book for that date. Luckily there was still space on the ferry a week later. Our advice, book the DBS ferry as soon as you know your travel date. Taking the ferry from South Korea to Russia seems to become very popular.
The DBS ferry is sailing weekly on Sunday from Donghae in South Korea to Vladivostok in Russia.
Contact person at DBS ferry
We booked with Mr. Kim. Send your booking request to email at dbsferry(at)dbsferry.com
Mr. Kim was very helpful and he replied to our emails immediately.
You find more information about the DBS ferry on the official homepage: www.dbsferry.com
To make a booking you need to send following documents by email
- Passport copy
- Temporary Import/Export Declaration of Korean customs
- Certificate of car registration (Title document)
- International driving license
Donghae (South Korea) to Vladivostok (Russia) – One Way – Economy
Total costs for two passengers and one vehicle (Toyota LandCruiser High-Top): KRW 1‘006‘800 / USD 900
The costs in detail
Cost per passenger in Economy class
KRW 156‘400 passenger (driver gets 30% discount)
KRW 168’000 passenger (25% discount)
KRW 2’500 terminal tax per person
Costs for vehicle
Cargo Ocean Freight: USD 600 / KRW 677’400 per vehicle
Payment is possible with cash in US Dollar or Korean Won or Credit Card at the day of sailing.
We are very happy with the whole booking process. Mr. Kim was very quick in answering our emails and was very helpful and professional.
The Service on the ferry was ok. The ship looked a bit old, the restaurant and toilets are a bit out of date but functional. The only thing we did not understand, why we only got meal vouchers for one person. Well, it was not a problem as we brought enough snacks with us.
Arrival and procedure in Russia
Custom clearance in Vladivostok, Russia
How does custom clearance work after arrival in Russia? What happens with the vehicle? Which documents are needed for the temporary import of the vehicle?
As we do not speak any Russian, we contacted Yuri from Links Ltd. a couple of months before we arrived in Russia.
Yuri is an expert with custom clearance and he is well known in the overlander scene. We are very happy that we had Yuri as our agent. With him everything was very easy and efficient. Of course the service costs something but it is worth every cent. If you plan to ship your vehicle to Vladivostok in Russia, contact Yuri.
Contact in Russia
Yuri Melnikov from Links Ltd. is professional, reliable, competent and an expert for importing vehicles, dealing with custom clearance and organizing insurance for your vehicle.
E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Procedure in Russia
After we booked the ferry from South Korea to Russia we contacted Yuri Melnikov from Links Ltd. in Vladivostok. We asked if he could help us with custom clearance temporary import and Russian insurance. He replied instantly and whenever we had a question we got an immediate answer.
We had to send following document by email:
- Driver’s passport
- Russian visa
- Car registration (Title document)
- Photos of chassis number of the vehicle, number plate and general view of the vehicle
Costs for custom clearance and car insurance
USD 50 (RUB 3‘000) Port charges
USD 150 Fee for custom clearance (Links Ltd.)
USD 100-150 Insurance for 3 months (depends on model and horse power)
USD 15 Fee for organizing the Russian car insurance policy
Payment: Cash only in RUB, USD, EURO, JPY.
Procedure after arrival in Vladivostok
Our ferry arrives in Vladivostok at 2.20 PM. We get off the ship at about 3 PM. We first have to go through immigration, we show our passport and get the arrival card and our passport stamped. After that they scan our hand luggage and we enter Russia.
Welcome to Russia. We are very excited because Vladivostok is the next step of our big road trip adventure around the world.
Custom clearance and temporary import of our vehicle in Russia – A piece of cake thanks to Yuri and his team
Right after immigration Svetlana from Links Ltd. welcomes us. She informs us that Yuri is on his way and he will drive us to the hotel later on. She has all documents for custom clearance and the insurance ready. We just need to sign them. The documents are needed for customs clearance process which will be the next day.
Usually the ferry will be unloaded on Tuesday morning by port workers. Therefore we need to spend a night at a hotel in Vladivostok. Yuri has arrived and he’s driving us to the hotel in the city. In the car he’s asking us if we need an ATM to withdraw money and a SIM card. Sure we do. First he is driving us to the bank and then to MTS for the SIM card. It’s great to have Yuri, so we save time and have an easy start in Russia.
Our guesthouse is in the center of Vladivostok and we enjoy a great evening in the city. The next morning Svetlana picks us up at the guesthouse. We drive to the port where we first have to go to the customs office. We only need to show our passports and the rest is all done by Links Ltd.
We now have to wait until custom inspection is done. We are told to come back after lunch. We are going to the next café and just about an hour later we get a phone call from Yuri that we can pick up our Toyota LandCruiser before lunch. 11.30 PM we’re back at the port and Yuri can drive our car out of the port. We quickly check our vehicle and everything looks all right.
We can’t believe that everything went so smooth and quick. Thanks to Yuri and his team at Links Ltd. our arrival in Russia was super easy.
A big thank you to Yuri and his team for the great service and professional handling. Everything was just perfect.
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Have you ever shipped your own car to Russia? Or do you plan to ship your car by ferry from South Korea to Russia? Tell us about your travel plans and shipping experience.